MENA WATCH : PKK Creates Obstacles for Erbil-Baghdad Sinjar Agreement

12.9.2021 ERBIL — The presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters in the Yezidi majority populated region of Sinjar creates obstacles for the agreement between Erbil and Baghdad to normalize the situation in the town.

During an interview with BasNews, Safeen Dizayi, the head of Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations, pointed out that due to the presence of the PKK in Sinjar, the Erbil-Baghdad deal is facing problems.

BasNews: On Monday, 30th August, 2021, the US consul general in Erbil, at a press conference, stressed their [the US troops’] stay in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, what is your opinion on this?

Dizayi: That explanation of America came at the right time. It was officially published, and we take it as an official position of America. Meanwhile, we will have additional forums and meetings on the collaborations [between Erbil and Washington] and the support [of Washington for Erbil] which KRG’s representation in America had previously stressed.

BasNews: Would the US withdrawal affect the Kurdistan Region? Does America intend to fully withdraw from the region?

Dizayi: It is not about withdrawing or not withdrawing from Kurdistan, it is related to the strategic dialogue between Washington and Baghdad, based on which the [US] forces should remain in a structured framework as trainers and not fighters and they announced themselves that there will be no combating troops in Iraq except trainers.

BasNews: America is currently concerned about the situation of Sinjar and PKK’s presence there, were the comments by the US consul general a new warning for the PKK? Would this be implemented?

Dizayi: Concerning Sinjar, there is an official agreement between Erbil and Baghdad which has been supported by the federal government, good steps have been taken to implement this agreement and the Global Coalition forces support it, but unfortunately it has not been put into action on the ground and the reason is clear, some armed groups create difficulties for the implementation of the deal. Besides, the presence of the PKK is a headache for the city. This agreement should be implemented so that stability would return to the city.

BasNews: How is the construction going on the biggest US consulate general planned to be opened in Erbil and what preparations have been made so far?

Dizayi: The construction of the US consulate general in Erbil has begun for two years and it is expected to be finished next year and it will be the center of America’s diplomacy in Kurdistan, which is great.

BasNews: Who is going to open that consulate? Which senior American official is set to visit Kurdistan to open the consulate?

Dizayi: It is not clear yet, but as part of the diplomatic norms, head of that institution, who is the foreign minister, will officially open it. In some countries, the deputy foreign minister will open it, depending on the country. We have not been informed of this officially yet.

BasNews: How do you evaluate the visit by the French president to Kurdistan? What was the message that he had for Kurdistan? What was the important decision in this regard?

Dizayi: France, as a powerful country, was invited to the conference held in Baghdad. The visit of the president of France means direct support to Iraq and Kurdistan. Macron clearly expressed France’s policy during his press conference in Kurdistan which was his country’s support for Kurdistan, and later, he met with President [Masoud] Barzani, the Kurdistan Region president, and prime minister. He met with President Barzani as the leader of the nation, the families of the martyrs as the sovereignty of a country, and a number of female Peshmerga fighters as symbol of women’s bravery. Macron’s visit was to reiterate support to the policy of Kurdistan in this phase and to make and strength friendly ties with Kurdistan.